So earlier I gave an explanation of my method for evaluating 4th grade FCAT reading scores and mentioned that I would repeat the process with the FCAT math scores. Here are the results of this statistical model:
Again, all three variables affect the percentage of a school's students who earn a 3 or above on FCAT math, though the effects differed somewhat from reading. Here the percentage of ESE students was actually the dominating variable. Special education students had a more difficult time with FCAT math than they did FCAT reading. Otherwise, the results were similar to before - poverty, as measured through free and reduced lunch percentage had a larger impact than race, but both mattered. The model's r^2 value was .746, meaning the these three factors explain 75% of a school's FCAT math performance.
So how did the schools do compared to their handicap? Let's take a look:
The two schools we could justifiably say were failing, Fairmount Park and Maximo, showed similar poor performances in FCAT math scores relative to their predictive performance when controlling for student demographics.
One school, Melrose, beat expectations. Again, Melrose's fourth graders are 95% African-American, 82% free or reduced lunch, and 18% ESE - by far the highest ESE of the five schools, which is why their predicted pass range for FCAT math is onlyl 5%. I'm sure the Times authors and the media, and perhaps even District leaders would say that 5% is a poor performance benchmark. Maybe so, but given Melrose's student body, that's what it is. 13% of Melrose fourth graders earned a 3 or above, meaning they beat their true benchmark by 8-points.
Although Campbell Park performed on par with expectations for FCAT reading, their math score was sub-par by a small, but noteworthy amount. We predicted that 20% of their fourth graders would earn a 3 or above when, in actuality, only 14% did.
Lakewood had beat its FCAT reading expectations by 10-points, but was pretty close to flat in FCAT math, coming two percentage points shy of its expected performance of 19% of students earning a 3 or above. Cause for concern and attention? Yes. Is it a "failure factory?" The data doesn't support that claim.
What did we learn?
The data still supports the contention that only two of the five schools are potentially "failure factories" - Fairmount and Maximo. Campbell Park and Lakewood need to work on their FCAT math, but they did well enough on FCAT reading against expectations to believe that they are within striking distance of performing to expectations. Melrose, the poorest, most African-American school in the lot, exceeded its statistically determined performance benchmark again in Math.
Next up on the analysis slate is understanding whether or not Black students are truly worse off in Pinellas than other parts of the state when controlling for the demographics we've included in this model. Will begin working on that model as soon as I get home tonight.